It was the twilight zone for neighbours Blackburn Rovers after the last day drama in the Championship that saw them relegated despite a 3-1 win at Brentford. Meanwhile for Burnley, the object of their scorn for so many years, it was sunshine and light for another year in the Premier League. It was another year of development, progress and betterment. It was a triumph for the folks that run the club, and the staff that run the team.

Football can be unforgiving, merciless and downright cruel. For humanitarian reasons some folks felt sorry for the Rovers fans, asking did they deserve this fate. Was it not the Venky’s to blame and the chaotic running of the club? The answer to that is most certainly yes, but neither can Burnley fans forget the abuse and derision, the banner that was flown over the stadium ‘staying down forever’ and the mockery directed towards Turf Moor for so many years.

It will be party time many Burnley fans quipped on twitter and Facebook, and how better to do that than with jelly and ice cream. That was the celebration theme and reports say that jelly was sold out in Burnley. We’ve now had four wonderful seasons with Dyche; promotion, then a battling relegation that was still a great season, then promotion as champions and now Premier League 40 points and staying up. At Blackburn it has just been a slow death.

From the moment they sacked Sam Allardyce, the pathway was chosen, the route was remorseless. While we had the word relentless to describe Burnley’s upward progress and playing style, Rovers could only use the word to describe their trajectory downwards. How harsh is football; to win 3-1 away from home and still be relegated because the two other candidates also won. As the news came in that Birmingham had hung on to their 1-0 lead at Bristol, the tears flowed in Rovers land. The final-day permutations and possibilities weren’t that difficult but were too much for Diane Abbott to fathom out.

How many of us felt a perverse and cruel delight in their demotion as they headed towards the small fry. For years they crowed that their local derby was no longer against piddling Burnley, it was against Manchester United. Their local derby games now will be against Bury and Rochdale. They once bought success. Burnley earned success. Whilst the Venky’s remain in control and the club is hamstrung by lack of money, it is hard to see how Blackburn can bounce back straightaway. Maybe it is their turn to spend 7 years in the wilderness.

There was one perfect newspaper headline: ‘They think it’s all over, it is now.’

The drive home after the West Brom game was brilliant. It didn’t matter one jot that Swansea won. We basked in the sure knowledge that Burnley would not be relegated; that we could happily wait for the new fixture list. We called not at the Kettledrum, or the Queen or the Shepherds, but at Abid’s in Leeds for a celebratory meal. For all Burnley fans in Leeds, and there are plenty of us, Abid’s is in Stanningley.

For Blackburn it was chicken karma. For us it was chicken korma.

The press was light in its coverage of what after all was a huge achievement; safety against all the odds, against all the predictions, against all the experts, against all the know-it-alls. And how the team grew over the season, how Barnes developed into a massive presence, how Vokes blossomed, how Mee and Keane grew into one of the best pairings the club has had, how Ward became one of the first names on the sheet, how Lowton became Mr Reliable, how Westwood and Hendrick were so impressive as a pairing and how Heaton grew to become an utterly awesome keeper. How good it was to have Long and Tarkowski to step into the breach, as if they had played there for years.

And how the club grew with new infrastructure, new buildings and new training centre; all that is needed now is some kind of corner stand to develop into a state of the art, purpose built facility for the disabled.

Probably all of us gave more than a passing thought to what is now a date spoken of with something approaching reverence, May 9, 1987. It was possibly the worst Burnley team ever, quite simply because the club was in such a penniless mess. And yet the same players are thought of today as heroes and legends because of that one, final, end of season result. We sit in the pub or on a coach and talk about Burnley’s greatest ever goals starting maybe with Bert Freeman’s at Wembley in 1914. But two goals have to go into any top list and those were the goals scored by Neil Grewcock and Ian Britton that won the Orient game and secured the place in the Football League. It is frequently said that had Burnley lost that day, then the club would have folded, but former director, Derek Gill, has always maintained there were people ready to step into the breach and provide the funds to keep it going. How astonishing it was that just a year later Burnley were at Wembley in a Cup Final. They lost, but it did not stop that game being a massive celebration of a club that had come back to life. It still had some difficult roads to take for a few more years but the club soldiered on. We might all pick different dates to say this was when we began the road to the Premier League; the night at York perhaps, or when Stan Ternent took us to the Championship.

The events since, far more successes than failures, have been momentous. 30 years ago this was a club on the brink; now it is a cited as a textbook example of how to run a football club, the one that is used as the model for others to emulate and one group that will be horrified to hear that are those Middlesbrough fans who mocked Burnley last summer; and most certainly those Blackburn fans who mocked Burnley for a decade and more. Fans at Sunderland, Blackpool, Charlton, Leyton Orient and Coventry must look at Burnley with envy; Portsmouth too maybe, although they are on the road to better times. Tony Pulis thinks we are a smashing club. The MOTD and SKY pundits in unison sing Burnley’s praises especially Sean Dyche. Harry Redknapp paid him homage; that if he went to a top six club he would keep them top six. But if a top six manager came to Burnley, they’d struggle.

SD’s 200th game in charge was at Bournemouth. What a four seasons he’s just had. Whilst he was celebrating that, I was celebrating the ancient Peugeot had passed its MOT at the ripe old age of 11, in fact it might even be 12; I’ve lost count. It keeps on going, 115,000 miles, the bulk of the miles being back and forth to Turf Moor from Leeds. A few journeys ago I got a speeding ticket, 36mph in Cliviger, on the way to a game. Just as you do the straight bit from the Queen, nice and slow (I thought), then a couple of bends, and the camera from the van was aimed at the bend, crafty sods. We saw the van, but too late. The offer of an awareness course was swiftly accepted; a £90 fee for the pleasure of a morning in the Masonic Hall Headingley. 25 years ago moi and Mrs T had our 25th wedding anniversary there and I hadn’t set foot in the place since. Life works in funny ways.

There was a balance between the males and females that was nice to see. The real divots and boy racers were in the room next door; my understanding being they were ones involved in prangs and shunts. There was a little old dear in our room who should have been next door. I did wonder if she couldn’t find the right room in the Masonic, how on earth she could find her way round Leeds. 4 hours later, a bit wiser, but also a tad bored by the end, there was one of those funny moments in the car park as two cars exiting were within an inch of driving into each other, as neither saw the other. Just imagine, you do a driver course and then within minutes have a shunt in the car park – priceless.

‘I like your thinking,’ was one instructor’s maddening catchphrase just about every time someone said something. That plus constantly being called, fella, pal and matey, all morning, (and that was just the women) made home time a welcome relief. There wasn’t even a ginger biscuit with our elevenses. I came out wondering if I could send the bill for £90 to Burnley FC. After all, it was pretty much their fault.

There was no jelly and ice cream at the Vitality Stadium and by all accounts Burnley had left their vitality at home and everything went a bit limp. All we had to entertain us was Corbyn’s car running over a reporter’s foot, reports of the Venky’s head offices being raided by the tax people, chickens with flags of India spotted in Bournemouth, a new definition of middle class is people who cut themselves on an avocado, people were admitting to watching the Eurovision Song Contest, and Dianne Abbott passed her O Level maths.

It’s a funny owld game, the side that was so good at Palace and then in the second half against West Brom just didn’t turn up on the south coast. It had to be Junior Stanislas that scored first all too easily against his old club, demonstrating that the immutable law of the ex is alive and well. With only a few minutes to go Vokes equalised from a ball swung over by sub Gudmondsson. At this point I was in the Farsley clubhouse and heads turned when I let out a primeval roar. The same heads turned again just two minutes later when another roar came out, only this time it began with a large loud, very loud F when Bournemouth scored again the result of another bit of poor one-versus-one defending. A lot of people up at Farsley know now I’m a Burnley supporter and thus the claret and blue folktale spreads just a little further into darkest Yorkshire.

We weren’t there in Bournemouth’s glorious sunshine, instead spent 5 hours in the grey, drab cold watching Joe at the Farsley 6 a side tournament at the Farsley stadium involving 18 U10 teams from all over Leeds. He loved it, that’s the main thing and only the delicious super-size hot dogs kept me going and warm inside. The bar was open all afternoon so at least I could slip inside and watch the last half hour of Soccer Saturday even though it made painful viewing hearing how slack Burnley were.

I could only select a few of the many comments on the websites after the game.

Bournemouth: it’s like a football stadium only smaller.

The goal could be priceless, if Hull beat Crystal Palace 10-0 and then Spurs 6-0; that will be the goal that saves the season.

A lovely sunny morning in Bournemouth, a place that now has palm trees along the prom.

Most of the team were on the beach, a very weak and un-Burnley like performance, felt sorry for the fans that went all that way (some had even cycled).

Treated it as a celebration, of Burnley staying up and Blackburn going down

The Swansea players paid for their fans to travel to their away game today at Sunderland… er just a thought Burnley…

If you watch Burnley away for entertainment, you’re in the wrong field.

Again: if you’re not going to play Defour what is the point of having him on the bench?

And one regular was singularly cheesed off: ‘An eight and a half hour round trip by train, to a lovely little stadium (in parkland with a beautiful Edwardian cricket ground just across the road) to watch us get beaten by the better side, one of our underrated former players AND a former Blackburn Rovers striker scored against us; just to rub it in , a horrible return journey where every smelly drunken idiot and or loudmouth chav got on the train somewhere between Oxford and Stafford, where we changed trains in a nasty, freezing concrete hellhole straight out of ‘Clockwork Orange’. To come home to Match of the Day where the lazy buggars who edit the programme couldn’t even find a single word of praise or comfort… I don’t care… this is who we are.’

‘I’m not overthinking it,’ said Dyche who agreed they were flat, ran out of steam, didn’t have any edge, bemoaned the defending, and suggested maybe it was just a game too far with striker Josh King the difference. Perhaps it was just a game to consign to the dustbin maybe; unless you travelled all that way and all the way back again. Maybe it was just a game too many, he added. What a good job then it was that the 40 points safety mark had been reached.

Not everything was a moan or a groan. Burnley fans come on get a grip, said one poster. Stop moaning about our players. We’ve just about achieved our highest finish and arguably biggest achievement in 40 years. As disappointing as today’s result was, can we look at the bigger picture.

True enough: who of us at the beginning of the season would have predicted 40 points and another season in the stratosphere? Could it just be after all the Herculean efforts they were entitled to an off day at the office? And anyway, safe, the hard work had been done already.



Oh what a beautiful feeling, oh what a beautiful day, I’ve got a wonderful feeling, everything’s going my way.

And who could blame us for feeling so good the day after the Palace game, and in fact for the next week, and then after the West Brom game. That was a win to savour and celebrate. This was no fluke win, this was merited and deserved and the Boyd pass will be talked about with a sense of reverence for quite a while. And then it was a point against West Brom that secured Burnley’s Premier place.

‘Magnificent,’ said Alan Shearer speaking of Burnley’s achievements this season and who could argue with that.

But it was classic Allardyce moaning and groaning about the referee. He could easily face charges for crimes against chewing gum. Zaha was indeed hard done by with the offside decision that was incorrect and went against him but the referee made poor decisions for both sides. Boyd was clearly pushed by Puncheon in the area but nothing was given. Zaha could easily have been yellow carded twice and subsequently red carded, for continual blatant dissent. If the referee decided that the Flanagan challenge in the box that saw Zaha on the floor was not a penalty, it was probably because Zaha had already been on the floor so often falling over and rolling about. Zaha can be a genius when in full flow, in this game against Burnley he was like a giraffe on ice.

After the win, Burnley were 8 points clear plus the superior goal difference. If Swansea were to lose at Old Trafford, that would be it, only a mathematical miracle and cricket scores could then possibly keep Swansea up. But Dyche was right. It was not all over, for United were a shadow of the side that beat Burnley and could only draw at home against Swansea. It meant there were still nine points to play for and Burnley had a seven-point lead over Swansea. The unthinkable could still happen. But win at home to West Brom, not something we do too often, it would be party time at Turf Moor.

Something Sean D said some while ago came back to mind. It was about seeing through the noise and that this was one of the big parts of the job, the ability to switch off from all the blather that surrounded him. The ability to focus when all around were critical, the capacity to be able to shrug things off. The Barton ban must have been a huge distraction. The team had not played well against Man United. There were calls to go 4-5-1; there were calls to bring back Defour. Dyche simply ignored all this noise, stuck to the tried and tested, and reaped the reward. The plaudits were plentiful:

This was a wonderfully resilient display, a performance based on strong-arm defence, a tireless collective work rate, and goalkeeping excellence to suffocate Crystal Palace’s momentum. A fine campaign is tantalisingly close to being rewarded with survival. (Observer)

     It was good old fashioned fare from Dyche’s charges – two big men up front, no-nonsense clearances, full backs bombing on – and Palace couldn’t deal with it, a performance that deserved to win… the brink of safety barring disaster with three games remaining. (Mirror)

     ‘People suggest we are safe,’ said Dyche. ‘But we are not. We might be. I’m not the Special One, I’m only special because I’ve got ginger hair and 95% of the world’s population haven’t got ginger hair. I stay focussed. I’ve seen football matches change so quickly and that’s why I don’t get involved. You don’t see me running up and down the touchline when we score or after a game. I just try to stay factual, focussed, and its’s real, authentic. This is not spin. This is who I am – boring.’

Matchday against West Brom and there were more important things than would Blackburn go down this weekend, general and mayoral elections, and Mrs May having a bag of chips in Cornwall. Win or draw and Burnley would stay up. If Swansea lost Burnley would stay up. We mulled over the possibilities, Diane Abbott couldn’t fathom them out; this could be the day we proved the experts wrong, or it could that things might be dragged on a little longer.

30 years ago more or less to the day Burnley had won 2-1 on the last day of the season to preserve their place in the league. This weekend was therefore a chance to think about how far the club had come in those 30 years and how they had done it inch by inch without help from billionaires. Seven of that side were at the game having attended a dinner the previous evening. Tim Quelch is inching his way towards the conclusion of his newest book that looks at these years. The club held the dinner to celebrate them; it was hard not to call it the Orient Dinner but it was more than just that. The dinner or Bruno Mars at the Leeds Arena – that was the question, sod’s law they were both on the same night. We chose Bruno Mars on the grounds that there was sure to be another dinner in 30 years and we could wait for that. And anyway: I wanted to learn some new moves and shapes.

Nerves weren’t helped by the news that Mee, Keane and Ward could all be missing from the brick wall defence, plus Boyd a doubt as well. And West Brom were a bogey side. At their place there had been two heavy Premier defeats; at Burnley last time out they’d shoved, pushed and muscled their way to a draw after Burnley had been 2-0 up. They were specialists in the wrestling, jostling and holding routine at corners, although Pulis called it ‘blocking’ to give it some respectability. He’d admitted that they coached it and practised in training. Week after week we watch it on TV in most games and wonder just when it will be stopped. The sin bin idea being mooted at the moment for dissent might be the way.

There were a few butterflies but what a splendid afternoon it was. Who would have thought that Burnley and West Brom, not names you would normally associate with the finer culinary aspects of football, would serve a up a tasty treat of a game that started slowly, built up, and ended with a superb climax that saw Burnley retain their Premier League status.

It was Swansea that we worried about catching up but with a neat twist in the tale of the season, it was Hull who came up on the rails to provide the result that saw Burnley secure. Swansea won later in the day, but Hull to our surprise lost at home against Sunderland of all people. It was Hull therefore that had us smiling. Mathematically it wasn’t quite over, but even the most pessimistic, glass half full, Burnley supporter, would have to be super-gloomy to see Hull overturning a 19-goal difference between themselves and Burnley.

And so: Burnley, in a game that ended with a surge of thrills and spills, clinched their place at the top table, competing once again with the likes of Spurs, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, City and United. Those exiting the ground who knew that Hull had lost would have known already. Most of us didn’t; so at the final whistle, with thoughts of Swansea uppermost, there was just the faintest tinge of disappointment to mix with the relief, that there had not been a win, just the 2-2 draw. In fact it could have been worse for with just 5 minutes remaining West Brom were winning 2-1; but then up soared Sam Vokes to head home a Brady free kick, that arced over the flailing keeper’s head.

If the first half was a slow burner, drab said some of the pundits, nevertheless it saw Burnley on the front foot, playing some delightful football, replacement centre-backs Long and Tarkowski superb, Hendrick and Westwood in control and Barnes and Vokes winning the battle against the West Brom back four. Any one of several of them could have been MOTM. Maybe we’d have settled for 0-0 at the final whistle having seen that West Brom posed threats at corners but into the second half and Burnley took the lead and brought the house down.

Barnes was through in the box and was clearly manhandled and brought down. We screamed for the penalty but none was given. While that was going on, Barnes simply picked himself up, regained and crossed the ball and there was Vokes to sweep it home. In fact, the linesman had been flagging all the while for the penalty. Estimates suggest that 15,000+ people missed the actual goal because we were all berating the referee. Until this point West Brom had never threatened to win the game, so could this be the goal that kept Burnley up?

West Brom hadn’t won in four and hadn’t scored in over 8 hours of football. They duly scored twice to take the smiles off our faces and re-set the whole scenario. The second had inevitably come from a corner that left Dawson to power through and score against Burnley yet again. Lose and Burnley would be left on the edge for yet another week. We churned and gurned, and grimaced and groaned as the minutes wound down. This was a buttock clenching finale. We were going to lose. It was sod’s law. At last Dyche made changes; on came Gudmondsson, Gray with fresh pace and energy, and Brady with his free kick expertise. And it was the latter that floated a peach of a free kick from the right so that Vokes rose; a defender and the keeper defended feebly, and Vokes’s header floated gently in, with just minutes remaining.

Delirium, done it we thought; surely that was it, a draw, a point, a precious point that at the beginning of the game, much as we desperately wanted to win, we’d have settled for. Pandemonium, uproar, bedlam, jubilation, we felt the whole gamut of elation. Sure Swansea might win, but every point took us an inch closer. And at that point it hadn’t dawned that Sunderland were doing us one almighty favour.

£105million seems to be the figure that is the TV reward for staying up. Then there are the bonus millions for the finishing position. Charlie Proctor and his family need just a fraction of that to get the treatment that the four-year old needs to get essential cancer treatment. There were more than a few with moist eyes and lumps in throats as the tiny lad lead out the teams clutching Tom Heaton’s hand. Some families are brave, above and beyond the ordinary. This family is one of them.

When Peter Noble played in the 70s at Burnley figures such as £105million coming the club’s way would have made him laugh. He was part of the Casper, Dobson, Fletcher, James, Waldron cohort in that great ‘Team of the Seventies’ that never saw its true potential as one by one the stars were sold. We purred at the pure passing football they played and even today think back to what might have been if Burnley hadn’t been a selling club. Noble wasn’t a big man; stand him next to Ashley Barnes and he’d look tiny but what a header of a ball he was. He was the ultimate play anywhere man, attack, midfield or defence. For a couple of seasons in the late 70s he was the driving force of the team as it slowly declined. If there had been others to match him in that side, the story of the club might well have taken a different course. Adamson brought him to the club in the early 70s in one of the shrewdest purchases of all time and he was an integral part of a side that the likes of Bobby Moore hated to play against ‘because we could never get the ball off Burnley,’ he once said.

Peter had just passed away and I thought of him and where he might have fitted in to the current side – in a word, anywhere. He was a box-to-box player, had energy to spare, led by example, could score goals, take penalties, make goals and was one of those who more than earned the accolade ‘one of my favourite players’ granted him by so many people who saw him play.

After football he ran a market stall selling sports goods and Jim Thomson tells the story of the footballs they took to Glasgow Celtic to kick into the crowd as a goodwill gesture after the riot at Turf Moor in the Anglo-Scottish Cup game. Harry Potts asked Peter to supply them and he duly did so. But when they got to Glasgow and saw the colour, they were horrified. When they opened the three large bags of balls, Billy Rodaway poked Thommo with horror in his eyes.

‘Jim for God’s sake, have you seen the colour of them balls?’

Thommo grimaced. They were blue and white, Rangers’ colours. He asked Peter why on earth he had brought them.

‘Couldn’t get rid of them in the shop,’ he replied, ‘Couldn’t sell ‘em.’

     In the tunnel as they went out with the Celtic players Bobby Lennox just laughed and told the Burnley players, if they kicked them into the crowd, they’d just go mad.      

‘By this time we were all nervous and beginning to wonder just what would happen. We were to find out quickly. Within minutes they had all been kicked back at us all burst. Billy Rodaway had actually handed his to a small kid on the front row but as soon as he turned round and walked away he felt a thud on the back of his head.’

‘Little bastard has just thrown it straight back at me,’ says Billy rubbing his head. Needless to say as 48 blue and white ruined foot balls littered the pitch, the Celtic players and Peter were killing themselves laughing.’

Rest in peace, Peter Noble